About the Scheme
In order to provide further assistance to minority owners of old buildings, the Hong Kong Government has commissioned Senior Citizen Home Safety Association (“SCHSA”) as a service provider to provide outreach support service. The social workers of SCHSA will provide assistance to those minority owners, who are affected by compulsory sale under the Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance (“Ordinance”) or property acquisition by private developers, by way of information service, technical service and emotional support; and to cover a public education and publicity programme on mediation in compulsory sale. The social workers will also refer the minority owners to professionals such as surveyors for advice if they wish.
SCHSA understands that some minority owners, especially those elderly minority owners of old buildings may have difficulties in understanding the provisions under the Ordinance and the process of compulsory sale, and may have worries and anxieties when approached by outsiders for voluntary acquisition of their properties.
Supported by professional legal and valuation advisers, the experienced social workers of the Outreach Support Service for Minority Owners will support minority owners who are affected by property acquisition or compulsory sale, and help them make an informed decision.
What is Compulsory Sale?
To address the problem of urban decay and to improve the living conditions of residents in dilapidated urban areas, the Government promulgated an urban renewal strategy in the 1996 policy statement "Urban Renewal in Hong Kong". The policy statement proposed, amongst other things, the enactment of legislation to facilitate owners of private buildings in multiple ownership to redevelop their lots. Following intensive discussions, the Legislative Council passed the Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Bill in 1998. The Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance came into operation in 1999 to facilitate owners and private organisations to participate in and expedite redevelopment of old districts.
In order to enhance the chance of redevelopment of old buildings and to help tackle building deterioration, and taking into account the ageing buildings in Hong Kong and to meet Hong Kong's changing economic situations, the Government launched public consultation on the Ordinance since 2006, and proposed the Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment)(Specification of Lower Percentage) Notice ("Notice") in early 2010, which specifies the lowering of the application threshold from 90% to 80% for three classes of land lot. The Notice came into operation on 1 April 2010 after scrutiny by the Legislative Council.
The Notice does not change the other requirements under the Ordinance, that is, the Lands Tribunal will make an order for compulsory sale only if it is satisfied that redevelopment of the land lot is justified on the ground of age or state of repair of the existing buildings and that the majority owner submitting the application has taken reasonable steps to acquire all the shares of the lot.
If necessary, our social workers will check for the minority owners free-of-charge whether their properties fall within one of the specified classes of lot under the Notice which came into effect on 1 April 2010, namely,
(i) a lot with units each of which accounts for more than 10% of the undivided shares in the lot;
(ii) a lot with all buildings aged 50 years or above; and
(iii) a lot that is not located within an industrial zone and with all the buildings on the lot being industrial buildings aged 30 years or above.
The Notice has specified the lowering of the application threshold for compulsory sale from 90% to 80% for these three classes of land lot.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary process in which a trained and impartial third person, the mediator, helps the parties in dispute to reach an amicable settlement that is responsive to their needs and acceptable to all sides. Mediation is an alternative to resolving a dispute through the court system.
Mediation for Compulsory Sale Cases
In accordance with the direction issued by the President of the Lands Tribunal (“the Tribunal”) pursuant to Section 10(5)(a) of the Lands Tribunal Ordinance (Cap. 17) on “Mediation for Compulsory Sale Cases Under the Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance (Cap. 545)” (LTPD: CS No. 1/2011), the Tribunal has the duty to facilitate the settlement of disputes by encouraging the parties to use alternative dispute resolution procedure (“ADR”) if the tribunal considers that appropriate. ADR means a process whereby the parties agree to appoint a third party to assist them to settle or resolve their dispute and a common mode of ADR is mediation. If settled, the dispute will come to an end without going through a trial process. It will save time and costs.